Talia Joy Castellano was born on August 18, 1999, in Orlando, Florida, and grew up in and around central Florida with her mother, Desiree Castellano, and in New York City with her father, Marc Winthrop. She had three siblings: Kaitlyn, Jackson Winthrop and Mattia Castellano. When she was 7 years old, Talia Castellano began experiencing fevers and abdominal pain. When an X-ray on February 14, 2007 showed unusual anatomical displacements in her chest, Talia Castellano was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare pediatric childhood cancer of the peripheral nerve system. She underwent various types of therapies and treatments and was initially declared cancer-free, but relapsed three times in the next six years. During that time she was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (previously known as preleukemia) and progressive neuroblastoma. There are no known treatments to tackle both cancers at the same time. Although she was given only months to live, a novel drug therapy provided her with an additional 11 months.
When first diagnosed, Castellano bonded with a family friend Tammy DeLaRosa, who was also a cancer survivor. There, she discovered the world of makeup. On August 27, 2011, Castellano uploaded her first makeup tutorial, “Crazy eyeliner” to YouTube where it gained over 30,000 views. Castellano was known for being upbeat and positive when it came to battling the aggressive cancer, and she was well aware of the reality of the situation, according to her mother. She has stated in videos that she was not afraid of dying, and that “when it’s my turn to go, I’ll be okay with that.” When Castellano became aware that her cancer was terminal, she opted to sign hospital forms requesting only palliative care. In September 2012, she appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and was announced an honorary face for CoverGirl cosmetics. She subsequently appeared in CoverGirl magazine ads with her slogans “Makeup is my wig” and “Just keep swimming”. She also collaborated with the Orlando-based BASE Camp Children’s Cancer Foundation, a program to give support to children battling cancer in the central Florida area and to their families.
Talia died at the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Fern Park, Florida, on July 16, 2013, about a month before her 14th birthday, after spending the last three months of her life hospitalized for palliative care. After years of grueling treatment and with the disease metastasized, she declined any further proactive treatment. An announcement was made soon after the time of Castellano’s death, 11:22 a.m., on the Angels For Talia Facebook page.
- August, 18, 1999
- Orlando, Florida
- July, 16, 2013
- Fern Park, Florida
Cause of Death